Rafael Nadal marked his comeback to singles action with a commanding victory over rival Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International.
In his first singles match in nearly a year, Nadal displayed top form, defeating Thiem 7-5, 6-1 in a dynamic hour and 30 minutes of play. This victory adds to Nadal’s 10-6 win-loss record against Thiem.
Having been sidelined for almost a year due to a hip injury and subsequent surgery, Nadal expressed pride in his positive return to competitive tennis. The 37-year-old acknowledged the challenges of the past year and appreciated the support from his team and family.
“Probably one of the toughest years of my tennis career, without a doubt,” Nadal said post-match.
“To come back and play at a very positive level is something that will make us feel proud, to myself, all the team, all the family who’ve helped every single day over the past year.”
Nadal’s return comes after a doubles match on Sunday, where he partnered with Marc Lopez but faced defeat against the Australian duo of Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson. Despite being unseeded in the upcoming season-opening Grand Slam, Nadal aims for a deep run in the Brisbane 250-level event to enhance his preparedness. The draw presents the possibility of facing rivals like Novak Djokovic in the early rounds.
The Spaniard received a warm welcome from fans, who celebrated his trademark shots and powerful play. In the second round, Nadal is set to face the winner between former Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev and Australian Jason Kubler, with Kubler leading the first set 6-4.